Five fantastic free alternatives to expensive products

Marc Lockley / 13 February 2014

When living on a tight budget there is nothing that tastes sweeter, reads better or works finer than when you find something that would typically cost a small fortune but you can enjoy for free. Marc Lockley suggests five smart things you can pick up for nothing that could in total cost you upwards of £750 if you were to pay full whack.

Save on sat navs

Sat navs typically cost between £60 and £290. With smartphones increasingly having faster processors, sat nav apps are becoming a more viable option than previously thought and are cheaper alternatives to the standalone machines. Although there are paid-for apps, Waze is a community-driven free app for Android, IOS and Windows. Being part of the Waze community means both you and other users can report accidents, hazards and road alerts and the app even lets you know where the nearest petrol stations are. For safety reasons it would be worth investing in a cradle for your phone.

Join the coffee club

Pop into your local coffee shop once a week for a couple of drinks and over a year the spend mounts up to around £250. However there are several places where you can get a free hot drink by becoming a ‘member’, which is also free. Joining Waitrose* or Ikea* entitles you to a hot drink whether you make a purchase or not. Spend £5 in Waitrose and your membership awards you a free newspaper as well.  John Lewis's deal is even sweeter; their reward card allows you a free hot drink AND cake of your choice once a month.

Electronic books for less

Typically a book costs around £5. Over a year this can easily mount up to £150. However if you have an e-reader, for example a Kindle or Kobo, there are a tens of thousands of books available for free**. These include the classics like Oliver Twist, David Copperfield and Les Miserablés, as well as modern-day books ranging from cookbooks to thrillers. You can find a list of the ‘top 100 free Kindle books’ on Amazon. If you don’t have an e-reader, you can download the Kindle app for free on most smartphones and tablets. You won’t find top selling books for nothing, however you can sample a free audiobook of your choice with Audible, but remember to cancel the offer prior to the end of the 30-day trial, otherwise you will be charged for future months.

Spending on software is so last year

Purchasing software to write letters, create presentations and spreadsheets can easily set you back around £90-£100. Having more than one computer means you spend extra buying additional licenses. But offers all these for free.

A smart move, on the move

SmartBands, also known as Activity Trackers, typically cost between £70 and £129; logging your movements and sleeping patterns on a wristband that connects to your computer. However with your smartphone there are several free apps offering alternatives, including Nike+ Running, the ‘Runtastic Pedometer Lite’ for tracking steps and the Sleepbot assessing your sleep.

* Written by Marc Lockley – a negotiation coach and money saving expert. Marc tweets @negotiator1

* Restrictions apply

**Free books may vary

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.